The final member of a gang of hunters has been disqualified from keeping animals and handed a suspended sentence for "inflicting pain and suffering on innocent wildlife".

Callum Frew, 23, of Flimby Brow, Flimby, appeared at the magistrates’ court in Workington this week after previously admitting three offences, alongside four men who were sentenced last month for their part in hunting badgers and deer.

This week, Frew pleaded guilty to seven more offences following a further investigation into him.

These include wilfully killing a badger, causing suffering to a fox by encouraging dogs to chase and attack it, failing to provide veterinary care for his lurcher who had infected painful injuries to its face. They happened between 2018 and 2019

He received concurrent jail terms of 120 days on each offence, suspended for 18 months, and was ordered to complete a community order with a 26-week curfew and 100 hours of unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay costs of £2,000 and a victim surcharge of £122.

Frew was disqualified from keeping all animals for life and his mobile phones were ordered to be destroyed. The court applied a deprivation order for two whippet-type dogs that were seized from him. They will now be rehomed by the RSPCA.

It comes after an RSPCA investigation into material depicting wildlife crime was discovered on a mobile phone by police looking into a separate case. The RSPCA’s Special Operations Unit launched an investigation into footage showing a group of men badger digging and baiting. Further investigation then revealed more offences against Frew.

Investigating officer Jason Bowles said: “The footage shows the men and their dogs inflicting pain and suffering on innocent wildlife.

“Badger baiting and digging are brutal and illegal blood sports which sees violence being inflicted on wild animals as well as painful injuries on the dogs who are used.

“Frew and others appeared in images and footage showing the men out with their dogs, digging down into badger setts and setting dogs on the animals. It’s extremely upsetting to see the badger being attacked by the dogs and to hear their cries as they’re killed. We then discovered that there was more evidence against Frew showing him setting his dogs on foxes and badgers and brought more charges against him.”

PC Samantha O’Key, Cumbria police wildlife, rural and environmental crime coordinator, said: “We are very pleased with the outcome of this investigation and the subsequent convictions that have been brought against the individuals, as Cumbria Police takes animal cruelty very seriously.

"We worked diligently with our RSPCA colleagues and this is a good example of partnership working at its most effective.”